Regis Prograis says he's too smart of a fighter for Josh Taylor: 'My style will give him fits'

Kevin IoleCombat columnist
Boxer Regis Prograis shows off his belts before a Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Watford FC at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Oct. 19, 2019 in London. (Getty Images)
Boxer Regis Prograis shows off his belts before a Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Watford FC at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Oct. 19, 2019 in London. (Getty Images)

Regis Prograis was discussing how he felt his style could cause Josh Taylor problems when they meet Saturday at the O2 Arena in London for the Muhammad Ali Trophy in the finale of the World Boxing Super Series’ super lightweight tournament.

As he spoke, a thought hit him and he paused.

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“He’s a good fighter, no doubt about it,” Prograis said. “He’s tall, he’s long, he does have decent power. He can fight on the inside [and he has] good body shots. I just think my style will give him fits, to be honest with you. I think styles make fights and I think my style is really going to give him trouble. I mean, my style is … ”

He didn’t complete the thought and instead regrouped, because it dawned on him that one of the reasons for his success is his ability to adapt to the occasion.

He’s a pressure fighter when he needs to be. He’s a boxer when he wants to be. He has a diverse game with a great understanding of how to break down an opponent.

“Think of it this way: He has 15 fights and I have 24, and if you look at our fights, all 15 of his are the same, and he’s doing the same thing in every one of them, over and over,” Prograis said. “Most of my 24 fights, they all look different. What I did against [Terry] Flanagan was different than what I did against [Juan Jose] Velasco and what I did against [Julius] Indongo was way different than what I did against either of them.

“I know what he’s going to do, because he does the same thing every time, over and over. I understand why he doesn’t switch things up from time to time, maybe, because it all works for him. But against a smart fighter like me, he’s going to have problems because he doesn’t have any idea what I’m going to do.”

On paper, the bout is one of the most compelling of the year. Kalle Sauerland, the chief boxing officer of the WBSS, calls the match “the caviar of boxing.”

“It’s a 50-50 fight between the No. 1 and No. 2 in the division,” Sauerland said. “It’s one of those fights that’s got ‘Fight of the Year’ written all over it. It’s going to be fireworks, that’s for sure.”

Taylor (15-0, 12 KOs) will be the fifth opponent among Prograis’ past 11 who enters the bout without a loss as a professional, though Taylor is clearly a notch above the rest of the men Prograis (24-0, 20 KOs) has met.

For as good as he is, Prograis finds himself in a position much like Marvelous Marvin Hagler was nearly 40 years ago when he went to England to challenge Alan Minter for the WBA-WBC middleweight title at Wembley Arena in London on Sept. 27, 1980.

Hagler was 49-2-2 and hadn’t lost in more than four years, but he’d never held a title and had fought for one only once. He seemed to defeat Vito Antuofermo handily, but the fight was shockingly called a draw.

Hagler had to go to London to fight Minter to get his title and the recognition as one of the best in the game that those within the sport had long since known.

Prograis is one of the most compelling personalities in the sport, as well as one of the best fighters, but he’s not a major name yet. He believes he’s on the verge of a breakthrough.

He is happy to fight in England in front of what he said are among the most astute fans in the world because it will be a coming out party of sorts.

“After this fight, I think I’ll get the respect worldwide that I deserve,” Prograis said. “They are smart fans and they know how good of a fighter Josh Taylor is. And I’m not going to [lie]: The man is a good fighter. No doubt about it. Now, he ain’t me and he ain’t never met no one like me, I’ll tell you that.

“When they see how this fight goes, they’ll realize what I can really do, and I think I’m going to come out of this as an international superstar. This is the type of opponent and situation I always dreamed I’d have and now I’m going to take full advantage.”

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